Encouraging Children to Participate in Lessons
For many adults the idea of speaking in public is incredibly daunting, so why should it be any different for a child? Making the classroom a place where the child feels comfortable and at ease to participate should be a priority for all teachers – though not something which is always easy to achieve, particularly as each child is different.
Putting their hand up and getting something ‘wrong’ or pronouncing a word incorrectly can instill fear into children. Ensuring they are in an environment where even the most outlandish ideas become part of a discussion will help put them at ease . Again, just as adults, children need to feel people are interested in what they have to say not whether it is right or wrong.
Read on for some key ideas for encouraging children to engage and get involved:
Make the Classroom a Comfortable Environment
Making a child feel relaxed in their school or nursery environment is crucial to encouraging them to participate.
Supportive feedback for all contributions will help make children feel at ease and more likely to speak up more often. Positive encouragement of ideas whether wholly relevant or not will breed confidence.
Consider adding noticeboards to your classrooms. Boards brimming with displays made by the pupils, seeing their classmates work on the wall should encourage a child to want to see theirs up there too. Picking work from all children no matter what ability should be a given, don’t just reserve space for the most able students.
Re-think and Re-arrange the Classroom
A traditional classroom layout with rows of desks doesn’t lend itself to an environment in which discussion will flow. Re-working the classroom with tables and chairs in a horseshoe shape should make children feel more involved – this way there is no one at the back of the room feeling disengaged.
At the very least make sure you move around the classroom rather than standing at the front or move children’s places around often so everyone gets the chance to be at the front. Put the quieter children towards the front of the room, they may be more likely to contribute if they don’t have to speak as loudly.
If a child is bored the chances of them offering any involvement in a lesson is very unlikely. Make things relevant, compare the topics you are studying to things your pupils can relate to. They are far more likely to interact if their own experience can be discussed.
For example, compare the life and hardships of a Victorian child to the experiences the children in your class have. Look at what food they ate compared to what children eat now. There are endless many comparisons in which children can actively get involved from real life experience.
Encourage Physical Engagement
Getting children to speak up isn’t the only way to encourage participation. Ask the less engaged children to write other children’s answers on the whiteboard.
Whiteboards at the front of the class are great, but consider the benefits of laptop whiteboards where a pupil can pen their initial thoughts and think about them before presenting them to the whole class.
Encourage Group working
Working in small groups can be a great way of getting even the most timid pupils to speak out.
Start with just a few pupils, then gradually increase the number by one each time the class break into groups. This way the more reserved pupils can build confidence and the likelihood of contributions is far more likely.
Most of all remember that learning should be fun and the more the pupils enjoy a lesson the more likely they are to speak out – tap in to the latest crazes and use them to your advantage.